Otomedius Excellent is a 3-player co-op shoot-em-up from Konami. Besides carrying on the legacy of the classic Gradius series, the Otomedius games are most noteworthy for their unusual character designs. Rather than serious and masculine fighter pilots, players control a number of anime-style ladies who pilot ships inspired by other Konami titles. Some gamers may look at these flying femmes and exclaim ‘WTF’ letter-by-letter, but that would be missing the point. The girls of Otomedius lend the game a ton of Japanese charm and levity. Each one has her own personality and voice, plus completely different weapon loadouts that instill ample replay value.
Otomedius Excellent includes 9 characters on-disc, with two additional fighters scheduled to appear as DLC at a later date. Let’s check out the lineup:
Aoba Anoa: The game’s cover character pilots three different Gradius-themed ships: the Vic Viper, Vic-Viper T-301 (GameStop preorder bonus), and Metalion (as the unlockable Hyper Anoa).
Erul Tron: Pilots the Lord British, first seen as the 2P ship in Life Force and Salamander.
Madoka: She flies the Murdoch Viper 2, a TwinBee-themed ship.
Diol Twee: Her Serenity Viper comes from Xexex, a little-known arcade shmup that was released as Orius in North America.
Tita Nium: Not only does her name involve a clever pun, she also pilots the Bigcore Examiner, a ship inspired by the first boss of Gradius.
Esmeralda: She flies the Jade Knight, which first appeared in Gradius Gaiden. While the Gradius Gaiden PSOne game never reached America, it was included in the Gradius Collection on PSP.
Poini Coon: Poini pilots another ship taken from Gradius Gaiden, the Falchion Beta. Her name rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?
Arnval: The pilot of the Anthurium (a ship inspired by Gradius V) and a guest character from Konami’s Japanese Busou Shinki toyline.
Gesshi Hanafuma: She rides the Wave Sword, a ship seen in Super NES classic Axelay. Gesshi herself is based on the Famicom title Getsu Fuuma Den, which our readers may remember from corresponding DLC in Castlevania: Harmony of Despair. A Getsu Fuuma Den villain, Ryukotsuki, also appears as a boss in Otomedius Excellent.
Strarf: A downloadable character who originated in the Busou Shinki toyline. Strarf flies the Alpinia, a ship introduced in the 3D arcade game/Gradius-spin-off Solar Assault.
Kokoro Belmont: A DLC character inspired by a certain popular Konami series. She even fires holy water and axes! Her ship, the Stavros, comes from obscure arcade shmup Trigon, dubbed Lightning Fighters in the US.
Dark Force: Otomedius Excellent’s main villain who appears in three different forms throughout the game. Gothic lolitas are a dangerous bunch indeed.
Otomedius Excellent is now available on Xbox 360. It features 3-player local and online co-op. Stay tuned for our full co-op review.